Yesterday, tens of thousands of Mexicans went into the streets of Mexico City to protest against fraud in the claimed election of Enrique Pena Nieto (EPN), the PRI candidate, as president of Mexico. MSNBC reports:
Tens of thousands of protesters, many holding hand-written placards, marched through the Mexican capital on Saturday against President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, accusing him of buying votes and paying off TV networks for support.
The demonstrators, including students, leftists, anarchists and union members, shouted slogans criticizing Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and the electoral authority.
"Mexico without the PRI," "Mexico voted and Pena didn't win," and "If there is an imposition, there will be a revolution," chanted demonstrators, according to Spanish-language Mexican newspaper La Jornada....
Many carried signs reading, "Pena, how much did it cost to become president?" and "Mexico, you pawned your future for 500 pesos." ...
"The PRI threatens many people and buys others with a couple of tacos," said Manuel Ocegueda, a 43-year-old shop worker participating in the march....
Oops. Apparently, the Mexican electorate forgot about the PRI's extensive seven decade track record. Or it was seduced by PRI's assertion that it in its exile from national power it had found the Savior. Or it was overcome by desperation about the nearly 60,000 deaths in the PAN led War on Drugs. To me, it looks a lot like amnesia.
The PRI, the party of the institutional revolution, ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000. It maintained itself in power with outright violence, buying elections, repression, and pervasive corruption. PRI governments were involved in disappearances and torture. PRI governments shot unarmed civilian demonstrators. EPN said he was "different." And that the "new" PRI was different. Many disputed this. Then, in the wake of the election, the videos demonstrating vote buying emerged on youtube. It appears there was a run on a Soriana Supermarket when a rumor started that the gift cards voters received in exchange for votes would be canceled. None of this is new. This is exactly what should have been expected. And many people did expect it. Just not enough.
In fact, more Mexicans voted against EPN than for him, but only Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) will file a complaint about the election. So far, PAN, the incumbent party, seems willing to accept the results. It is extremely unlikely that EPN's election will not be sustained. In time the furor will die down. In time the haze of forgetfulness will obscure what happened in this election. In time there will be no more demonstrations. There will be only shrugs. And resignation.
Apparently, a remembrance of history is not something that plays an extremely vital role in Mexican (or for that matter, US) politics. Nor is accountability. Nor is a consciousness of the struggles of the past. Nor is preserving all of the myths of struggles for greater democratization. No. There is widespread amnesia. Only a few remember the past, fewer recount those events. And their audience? Their audience is oh so very distracted and entranced. Or asleep. Or for sale.
Yesterday, I was immersed in Paco Taibo II's memoir, "'68," a recounting of the 1968 Mexican student revolution and its murderous suppression by the PRI government of the time. I recommend reading it. It is a great memoir.
There is only one very minor point to be made here. It's about institutional amnesia. We're prone to forget the stories and the idealism and the struggles of the past, to permit them to be pushed out of our minds by time, distractions and outright repression. Look at the results of amnesia. Look at the results in Mexico even if we can't look at them in the US. This is what happens when people forget. This is what happens when people are asleep. Despierta ya!
cross-posted from The Dream Antilles